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The Top 6 Most Common Food Allergies for Adults


Updated June 11, 2014

The Top 6 Most Common Food Allergies for Adults

2 percent of American adults are allergic to fish

Jeanette Bradley, licensed to About.com

The most common adult food allergies are different than in children. Many children outgrow their allergies to milk, egg, and soy, while adults may develop new food allergies later in life.

Allergies to fish and shellfish often develop in adulthood. Peanuts and tree nuts are often lifelong allergies. There is some evidence that allergies to sesame and other seeds are increasing in adults.

The most common food allergies in American adults, and percent of people who have them, are:

  1. Shellfish (2%)
  2. Peanut (0.6%)
  3. Tree nuts (0.5%)
  4. Fish (0.4%)
  5. Sesame (0.1%)
  6. Fruits and vegetables (estimated at 0.1% - 4.3%)

These rates are taken from national surveys in which repondents are asked to self-report their food allergies. About the same percentage of adults report peanut and tree nut allergies now as 10 years ago.  The rate of reported nut allergies is not increasing for adults in the United States in the same way that it is among children.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “Health Statistics.” Accessed June 20, 2010.


Scott H. Sicherer, MD, et al.  US prevalence of self-reported peanut, tree nut, and sesame allergy: 11-year follow-up. Volume 125, Issue 6, Pages 1322-1326 (June 2010)


Sicherer SH, Sampson HA. Food allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2006;117:S470-5.http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/0091-6749/PIIS0091674905019214.pdf 

Sicherer SH, Mun˜oz-Furlong A, Sampson HA. Prevalence of seafood allergy in the United States determined by a random telephone survey. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2004;114:159-65.  

Zuidmeer L, Goldhahn K, Rona RJ, Gislason D, Madsen C, Summers C, et al. The prevalence of plant food allergies: a systematic review. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2008;121:1210-8.

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